Friday Morning Thoughts

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So, here’s what I’m thinking about this Friday morning, while I should be crafting an email for one client, sending off completed articles to another client, and following up with a third about a project in process.

I’m thinking about Harvey Weinstein. I’m thinking about Donald Trump. I’m thinking about domestic abuse and violence. I’m thinking about the kids that become victims of abuse and violence.

I’m not getting any work done because I can’t focus on the work. There’s so much fucking noise.

But here’s the big thing on my mind.

There’s a kid in my neighborhood, his name is Ben. He’s 11 years old, and he’s about as awesome as any 11-year-old kid can be. He opened a restaurant with his parents here in town (Big Ben’s Bodacious BBQ). We met them all at their grand opening and were struck by how amazing this kid is. He’s an aspiring chef and is more self-possessed at 11 than I am at 42.

A few weeks ago, Ben lost both of his parents in what is believed to be a murder-suicide. Yet another case of domestic violence. Our community is shocked. I’m shocked. They lived about a block from us, on the other side of the Crisis Center that’s across the street from our house. They were both found dead at home after someone called the police for a welfare check.

And, of course, everyone is concerned about Ben. He’s such a promising young man, dealing with a horrible tragedy at too young an age. The community is rallying around him. Another local restaurant is hosting a benefit. A GoFundMe page has been created to raise money for his education. This kid has suffered an unspeakable loss, but the village is hugging in tight around him, and I know there are many folks here who will do whatever they can to make sure he has a bright future. It makes me feel good to know that this is the kind of community that looks after each other in that way.

But you know what else that makes me think?

It makes me think about that building that is between our house and theirs – the Crisis Center. It’s a place for children in need of shelter, safety and support. I can see it from where I’m sitting right now. But you know what? I don’t know the name of a single kid in that building.

I’m sure that building is full of kids like Ben. But I don’t know their stories. Why?

There are so many kids out there, suffering the same sort of loss or trauma, not getting the same kind of community support. What makes one kid different from the next?

And when the fuck are we going to wake up not just as a community, but as a culture, to the reality of domestic violence? The CDC reports that nearly half of all murdered women are killed by romantic partners. As a woman, you’re way more likely to be killed by a current or former romantic partner than you are by a stranger. How many millions of kids have to survive this kind of trauma before we make a fundamental change in our culture? How many more Harvey Weinsteins and Donald Trumps and Bill Cosbys are we going to have to suffer? How many more nameless kids is it going to take?

I have no answers. I can only do my part, which starts with learning more about the Crisis Center and finding ways I can help them. With hugging in tight around those in our community who are victimized (this is Gary; there are a lot).

And by calling out this behavior when I see it. Not letting the Harvey Weinsteins and Donald Trumps and Bill Cosbys get away with their behavior for so long. But even I know that is easier said than done. Our culture is still one that blames the victim and punishes those who speak out.

How much more damage control do we have to do before we finally address what’s doing the damage?

 

 

 

 

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Raising My Vibration With Houseguests

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I’ve been giving myself a bit of a hard time lately. I wanted to document our Epic Move on Ye Olde Blog, but, dammit you guys, this settling-in process has been overwhelming to say the least. I find it difficult to write when my environment is in an upheaval. Upheaval doesn’t even begin to describe what this relocation has been like.

Nonetheless, I also try to practice self-forgiveness, so I’ve been doling out heaping helpings to myself, too.

But we’re finally edging towards normalcy and routine here, as evidenced by the fact we had our first overnight houseguests last week! There’s nothing like knowing someone is going to have an extended look at your home to motivate you to get it together.

My dear friends from college, Anthony Wood and Anne-Margaret Redding, own a yoga studio in New York (The Giving Tree in Astoria, check it out), and are currently on a year-long Raise the Vibration Tour of America. The tour was born out of a deep and intuitive need they have to help heal inner and outer divisiveness on a local level. They have a series of workshops that focus on yoga, meditation, community-building, live music and performance. I’ve been following their adventures on Facebook.

https://www.raisethevibration.com/
https://www.raisethevibration.com/

As it so happens, we have an incredible shop here in Miller Beach called Vibrations Health, Wellness & Juice Bar that just this week was debuting a new studio space called The Breathing Room for yoga, meditation, massage and other types of wellness services.

Vibrations
Vibrations

Since I’m eager to get friends to come stay with us in our new place, and since the connections between the tour and the shop’s new space were incredibly self-evident, I suggested to Anne-Margaret that perhaps they could come to Miller Beach and give a workshop in the new space at Vibrations.

Not kidding, guys, an hour later the whole thing was in the works. Synchronicity much?

So this last Thursday, Vibrations celebrated the opening of their new space with an evening workshop presented by Anthony and Anne-Margaret. I suspected the community here would be receptive to this kind of thing, but even I was surprised by the turn out. In fact, so many folks showed up there wasn’t enough room in the new space, and we relocated down the street to the Nelson Algren Museum.

I love that in our community, the shop owners in our small commercial corridor work together and have each other’s backs.

We were treated to an evening of gentle yoga, meditation, deep breathing, live music and spoken word poetry. The vibe in the room was incredible. Anthony and Anne-Margaret are confident and capable, and holy cow does Ann-Margaret have a beautiful voice. If they’re coming through your town, you should get yourself to one of their events.

But the real joy for me was having them as guests in our home for two nights. I love being a host, and while hubs thinks I go a tad overboard, I really enjoy creating an environment that is warm and welcoming.

I think one of the reasons I haven’t been writing so much is because so much of my creative energy has gone towards creating the environment in our new place. These last two weeks I’ve been looking at that environment through the lens of being a guest, and trying to make the house as comfortable as possible, especially in the guest bedroom. Good books to read? Check. Tasty and healthy snacks? Check. Information about local attractions? Check. Earplugs? Check. I really tried to think of everything.

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Come stay awhile…

There is something about focusing my attention so closely and specifically on my home that puts me in a state of flow. I lose track of time and feel more finely tuned in. It is such a joy to prepare for guests and create just the right environment.

At one point over the weekend, Anthony and Anne-Margaret interviewed us for a series of webisodes they’re making for their YouTube channel. They asked us what raises our vibration.

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but I think the time I’ve spent infusing my home with love and intention has seriously raised my vibration. Having guests over, connecting with them, sharing our stories, and sending them back on their way with full bellies and hearts raises my vibration. Knowing that their visit to my community had a positive effect on so many others raises my vibration.

Long story short – be sure to check out the tour. And if you ever want to spend a night or two in Miller Beach, our door is always open.

Disney Does Debbie’s…Period?

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I am no stranger to talking about vaginas. After five years of talking about vaginas, raising money for vaginas, even making anatomically correct vagina cupcakes for an annual charity production of The Vagina Monologues, I thought I’d seen it all.

I was wrong.

Hubs, who normally acts squeamish whenever I talk about vaginas, and who puts his hands over his ears whenever I dare even mention periods, actually sent me this article today.

Did you know DISNEY once made a short film about getting your period??!!

Yes, the media giant most known for delivering sanitized-for-you-protection stories about cute animals and princesses in distress, actually made an informational animated film about menstruation.

You guys, they actually say the word “vagina” in it. More than once. And there’s a even a mention or two of the “rectum”.

Check out the link to the article if you want some history about WHY Disney made this film – and apparently others like it.

And while the film certainly plays into antiquated gender stereotypes, I’d say it’s pretty revolutionary in its rather scientific explanation of what the hell is going on in your body when Aunt Flo visits. Can you even imagine a film like this playing in a place where they still practice female genital mutilation? Hardly. You’d probably be sent to prison.

Below is the film in its entirety if you’d like to check it out for yourself.

Who knows, maybe in a parallel universe, “Frozen” is actually a story about IVF.

We’ll See What Happens

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The view out the back of my new home studio in Indiana.
The view out the back of my new home studio in Indiana.

When I worked through The Artist’s Way almost 3 years ago, I had an idea of what the book and 12 week program might offer me in the short term – some insight into my creative strengths and weaknesses and hopefully renewed energy for my creative pursuits.

What I wasn’t sure about was how it might affect me in the long term. What would stick? What would be cast aside, like so many other creative coats I’ve tried on over the years?

Well, here it is almost 3 years later, and I am surprised to report that what has stuck with me the most are the morning pages. I write them nearly every morning. Sometimes life gets hectic (I’m looking at you, stressful cross-country move) and I set them aside for a few days or even a few weeks. There’s a lull in the conversation between my psyche and me. I just can’t be bothered, or I’m too overwhelmed, or I’m so focused on a big project that I don’t want to sacrifice that precious morning time. Those handful of magic minutes first thing in the morning where I’m most positive, enthusiastic and ready to get down to business.

But I always pick them back up.

Mostly, they are a laundry list of what I did the previous day and what I’m hoping to accomplish on that day. I list my worries, my complaints. I think the phrase I use most often (usually several times in one sitting) is “We’ll see what happens.”

And then there are days like today, where I plunge a little deeper. I shine some light on some of the darker places. I don’t just write down that I feel kind of shitty or disappointed or tired or overwhelmed. I ask myself WHY I feel kind of shitty or disappointed or tired or overwhelmed.

This move from Los Angeles to Indiana has taken my almost complete focus for the last six months or so. I knew this would happen. Which is one of the reasons why I was so resistant to it for so long. I already feel like I’m behind in my life. Like I’m racing to catch up with everyone else. I didn’t want to get even further behind.

Now that we’ve successfully packed up all of our stuff, shipped it across the country, took our two nervous and drugged cats on a plane, lived with my parents for a month, closed on a house, moved all our stuff and the cats into the house, totally redid the plumbing, painted some rooms and have mostly unpacked, I’m starting to feel a little restless.

Restless?

I suppose that’s kind of weird to feel restless after such a huge expenditure of energy. But I haven’t put any energy whatsoever into any of my creative pursuits for the last six months, and I feel it. I think that’s why I feel so shitty. I’ve been neglecting that part of myself, and it’s ready to come back out.

I’m a little overwhelmed thinking about all the pieces to pick back up again. What will I focus on? Writing? Acting? Creativity coaching? Something else? I’m hoping that as I continue to get settled, that I’ll find the focus.

In the meantime, I’ll get back into my creative routines (morning pages, weekly blog posts, sending queries out for my first novel, working on the second). I’ll start some new routines (walking on the beach, joining a local writers group, seeing theater in Chicago). I’ll see what rises to the surface, what clamors for more attention.

We’ll see what happens.

 

 

 

 

Happy Anniversary, Los Angeles. And Goodbye.

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Greetings_from_Los_Angeles,_California_(63828)It’s my ten-year anniversary of moving to Los Angeles. As I write this, it’s been exactly ten years to the day that I first rolled into town with my piss-and-vinegar cat, Mars. That day was March 15, 2007.

Today is March 15, 2017. I’ll be finishing packing up boxes to load in the trailer that’s being delivered on Friday. Shortly it will be on its way to Indiana, along with me.

I didn’t plan for such a tidy ending. It wasn’t part of some grand scheme to have my departure coincide so neatly with the anniversary of my arrival. Ah, but that’s how life is, isn’t it? Sometimes it’s middle-of-the-night, operating-on-four-hours-sleep messy (like me right now, writing this in my dark kitchen at 3 a.m. surrounded by moving boxes). Sometimes it’s clean and delivers life-changing moments with a plodding regularity.

Life is like a box of chocolates, I guess.

When I got here ten years ago, I was 31 years old. I was tired. I was depressed and lonely. I was eager to fill a void inside me that I knew could never be filled in New York.

I had spent most of those five years in New York struggling – struggling to pay my bills, struggling to find success as an actor, and, most of all, struggling to find the companionship I longed for. I had recently ended the only meaningful relationship I had during my time there, after making the realization that although my boyfriend at that time really liked me, he didn’t love me. And I couldn’t continue investing in a relationship that wasn’t ever going to be enough for me. I decided I deserved more than that, even if it meant giving up the companionship that I so desperately wanted.

It was the most grown-up, and most painful, decision I had made up to that point.

My best friend/roommate had also recently moved away, leaving me feeling adrift in an indifferent city. Though I was terrifically, monumentally unhappy in New York, I didn’t want to leave. Being a New Yorker felt like a badge of honor, some kind of special designation that announced to the world that I Was Doing Something Important With My Life. My entire identity was wrapped up in being a hardened, ready-to-take-a-punch resident of the greatest city on earth.

But I had this nagging feeling that it was time to go. I’d had the idea planted in me to move to Los Angeles by my roommate/bestie who had relocated here to work as a Production Coordinator on a TV movie.

It was ludicrous, really, the idea of moving to Los Angeles. My one experience of L.A. was when I finished grad school. Our class came to the city for 10 days to present our showcase to casting directors and agents. As expected, I was a non-entity, dead on arrival. Nobody ever thought I was Los Angeles material. Not my acting teachers, not my classmates, not the industry muckety-mucks who looked right through me as they chatted with the younger, thinner, more attractive actor standing next to me. I was told, time and again, that an actor should never move to Los Angeles unless she had a reason to go, that reason being something like already having a gig as a series regular on a TV show. Or, at the very least, a decent agent.

I didn’t have any of those things.

Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe I should go anyway. I came out to visit. My roommate/bestie engineered a pull-out-all-the-stops weekend to convince me I would like it here. I saw Ray Romano on the escalator at the Sherman Oaks Galleria. I attended the screening of my bestie’s TV movie where I chatted for 20 minutes with one of the stars of my all-time favorite movie (FYI, it’s Tommy Boy, and that star was Julie Warner who played Chris Farley’s love interest. Don’t judge.). I ate French toast at Dupar’s. I went swimming outside in November. It was fucking glorious.

Still, I resisted. But my intuition kept saying to me, “Go to Los Angeles.”

Since companionship was my number one priority, even above my career, I decided to take a peek at what dating might be like in Los Angeles. I didn’t have high hopes. I believed the stereotype that the only women who get attention here are hot and blond. Nonetheless, I joined Match.com to scout prospects.

I was surprised by the number of quality guys there appeared to be. And how many of them wanted to talk to me. I started regularly chatting online with a guy named Adam. He didn’t exactly fit the description of what I thought I wanted (he was older than me and had kids), but I genuinely liked him.

I decided to give Los Angeles a try. So I packed up my shit and drove with Mars from New York to Los Angeles over the first two weeks of March, ten years ago. I was scared. But I realized I could be scared and still do the thing that scares me anyway. I guess that’s called courage, right? To take such an enormous leap of faith?

And now, here I am, ten years later. Sitting in my darkened kitchen, a purring kitty named Venus in my lap, another named Murray happily burrowing into a bag of bubble wrap somewhere nearby (I lost Mars six years ago). My husband, Adam, is snoring in the bedroom. Yes, the same Adam. We’re leaving, and I’m sad and glad and excited and nervous and irritable and nostalgic and can’t sleep.

And I’m a little bit scared. But I’ve learned how to have courage.

When I was deciding whether or not to move to Los Angeles, somebody told me what they thought the difference is between New York and L.A. New York is flashy, and will dazzle you. It’s close and tight and you have very little personal space, but it opens your eyes to what is amazing about the world. By contrast, Los Angeles is slow and sprawling and filtered through the haze of sunlight and palm trees. But it gives you the space and time you need to find out what is amazing about you. That is the city’s gift.

I am so full up with love for this beautiful, frustrating, life-changing place. Yes, the traffic is soul-crushing. Yes, there’s crime and vandalism and violence. There’s a great divide between the haves and the have-nots. There’s not enough water and it’s too hot in the summertime in the Valley and it’s way too fucking expensive to live here.

But this is where I grew up. As silly as it sounds, Los Angeles is where I found myself. I didn’t have anything that looked like traditional success here. I did a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I didn’t make much money. But I got to know myself in a way that I don’t think could have happened anywhere else.

I’m now 41 years old. I’m still tired. But I’m not depressed and I’m definitely not lonely. I found the companionship I was looking for. Not just with my husband and those silly cats. I also found the pleasure in solitude. I made friends with myself here. I learned how to love Amy Clites. She’s pretty fucking cool. I like hanging out with her. She’s curious about the world and she has a big heart. She likes to learn and try new things. She loves to garden and make things grow. She enjoys her creativity. She wants to put good in the world. She’s ready to map her own course.

Just like when I moved to Los Angeles, my intuition has been telling me that it’s now time to leave. I could stay and continue happily on, but I don’t think that’s what I’m meant to do. I feel like I’m being called to do something else, to take this experience with me to another place. And while I’m sad to say goodbye to the dear friends I have here and to the city I have grown to love, I feel light and free and ready to set off on a new adventure.

Happy anniversary, Los Angeles. And goodbye.

 

 

2016 – A Year for Gratitude

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I know we can all (mostly) agree that 2016 did little to boost our enthusiasm, intensify our collective connection, or even to give us hope about the future.

That being said, I am a FIRM believer in the practice of gratitude. Yes, practice, because it doesn’t feel like our default setting, as humans. It’s something we must consciously repeat to turn it into habit.

So, I cannot let 2016 pass without expressing my gratitude for certain events that made my life better this year, or helped me grow (even if that growth was kind of unpleasant). This is not an exhaustive list, but those that come to mind as I sit here quietly with hubs on this rainy, last-night-of-2016 in Los Angeles.

I am grateful that my mom’s cancer scare turned out as best as it possibly could. Sometimes it’s scary to hope for the best, but sometimes life does give it to you. Honestly, this alone could have been enough to make 2016 a good year. Thank you, 2016, for keeping my mom in good health so that I may enjoy her love and company for many years to come. My heart aches for those who cannot say the same.

I am grateful for that horrible gall bladder attack that hubs had that landed him in the ER on my birthday. It was terrible to see him in such pain for so prolonged a period, but finally getting a proper diagnosis meant finally being able to deal with it. And I’m even grateful in a way for the complications that made his recovery slow-going, because it forced me to slow down and just concentrate on being with him, in the moment.

I am grateful for my own health. I’m grateful that lump turned out to be nothing serious. I came to realize in a real way this year how, really, good health trumps everything else. Without it, there really is nothing else.

I am grateful that I found within myself the courage to make a bold move in the coming year. Moving back to Indiana has been a decision I’ve been mulling for years, and 2016 was finally the year where I unpacked all my thoughts and feelings about it and decided to stop thinking and start acting. That’s scary, but I feel more confident, and more excited about the coming year because of the big changes ahead.

I am grateful that this decision to move has been entirely mutual between me and hubs, and that his enthusiasm and positivity about our move has made me more confident and positive. It’s brought us closer together, and I’m quite excited about having this adventure together.

I am grateful for the adventures I had the good fortune to experience this year: sea kayaking off the Channel Islands with hubs and my brother, an impromptu trip to Belize, seeing the “Super Bloom” in Death Valley, visiting family in Indiana. I’m grateful that I have the means and the time to do such things.

I am grateful that my stepson is making bold choices with his life. It’s inspiring. His upcoming over-winter at the South Pole has given everyone a jolt of excitement, and I’m sure it will be a profound life experience for him.

I am grateful that my stepdaughter is turning into an amazing human being, one who acts with compassion and kindness, but who is also tough and resilient. I’m lucky to be able to see this young person turn into an adult before my eyes.

I am grateful for my friendships. They add depth and richness and meaning to my life.

I am grateful that somehow I keep making this freelance thing work, because it lets me be the designer of my own day-to-day life, so that I can pay attention to all the things that are important to me that I often could not with a more conventional job.

I am grateful for all the rejection letters I got this year, because it means I am actually writing and submitting my work.

I am grateful for all my incredible collaborators throughout the year. Though I tend to gravitate towards solitary work, I do so thoroughly enjoy the creative partnerships I’ve had the good fortune to enter into this year.

I am grateful for all the great art and culture I got to be a part of this year. Art, really, is what gives my life color and meaning.

I am grateful for all the small joys of daily life – for hot coffee and foggy mornings and kitty cuddles and hot showers and a nice, crisp glass of Viognier after a long day of work.

I am grateful, even, for the darkness of 2016. I’m finding the courage within myself to enter into that darkness, and the darkness that is no doubt coming.

The funny thing is, when I start making a list like this, I find I could go on and on and on. Gratitude begets gratitude, which makes the practice of gratitude that much more important. My intention for 2017 is to carry that practice into the New Year, and build on it.

What are you grateful about in 2016?

 

A Call to Creative Women Over 40

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Friends!

Many of you know that I’ve embarked on a journey towards becoming a certified Creativity Coach through the Creativity Coaching Association.

What the hell is that, you say?

That’s a good question, and one that I’m working to answer through this certification process and my own life experience and perspective. What I do know is that as a creative person I have faced challenges that I wasn’t sure how to address. That in my life I’ve become blocked, or bored, or hopeless, or even experienced a crisis of meaning. I’d ask myself, “What am I doing? Where am I going? Is any of this worthwhile? Am I wasting my life?”

As I get older I see I am not alone in these kinds of challenges or obstacles. I’m not the only creative person struggling to answer what seem like unanswerable questions, like, “What does this all mean?”

I happened upon the idea of coaching when I was researching ways I can expand my skill set and to use my creativity to be of service. At this point in my training I’m beginning to see not only how difficult the coaching can be, but also how valuable and rewarding – both for any potential clients and for me.

In our training, we’re encouraged to consider different ways we might specialize in our coaching. This could be exclusively offering services to writers or painters, or working with artists who have anxiety issues, or coaching creatives who struggle with marketplace problems. There are so many ways to specialize, it can be tough figuring out where to focus!

One area, though, that has come up again and again as being important to me personally and potentially valuable to others like me, is to offer coaching specifically for creative women over 40. We are a group of artists who face our own particular sets of challenges, and I’d like to be of service in this area.

If you are a creative woman over 40, I’d love to hear what some of the struggles or obstacles are that you face.

What gets in the way of having a satisfying creative life?

Where do you feel most vulnerable?

What types of struggles do you face?

What is most important to you in your life, what are your priorities?

What kind of help would be valuable to you?

What looks like success?

I’d like to begin crafting an online workshop and e-book that address specific issues related to you (and me!), so any stories or thoughts you’d like to share with me would be incredibly valuable.

Please feel free to write in the comments or send me a personal message at amy.clites@yahoo.com.

Thanks, and happy creating!

It’s Time to Go

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"You Are Beautiful" sign welcoming people to the Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary, where we are planning to move. Part of the You Are Beautiful public art project https://you-are-beautiful.com/pages/public-art
“You Are Beautiful” sign welcoming people to the Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary. Part of the You Are Beautiful public art project https://you-are-beautiful.com/pages/public-art

I’ve been a firm believer in trusting my intuition for many years now.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it isn’t as easy as all that. There’s much hand-wringing, and forehead-rubbing, and stomachaches, and internal arguments that go on. I hear that inner voice telling me what to do. And sometimes I rationalize its arguments away. Sometimes I ignore it. Sometimes I listen to it for awhile and then get distracted by other things.

But I always end up going back to that voice. I’ve learned that it tells me what I need to know, whether I want to hear it or not. And I’ve learned (and am still learning) to trust what that voice says.

And right now that voice is telling me it’s time to go.

I know. It’s scary.

It’s been telling me this for awhile, but I haven’t been listening. Well, I’ve been listening, but I haven’t been trusting. I’ve been explaining it away. I’ve been rationalizing arguments not to go.

But I now trust that it’s time to go.

After all, I’ve chosen this life. I’ve chosen a life of creative adventure over financial security. I’ve chosen wildness over stability. I’ve chosen to satisfy my curiosity, not to stock my coffers. And because I’ve been listening to that unpredictable inner voice, that intuition, I’ve found the adventures I’m looking for. I take risks. I uproot myself and start over. I take a fresh perspective. I upend things, even when it appears they are thrumming along quite healthily.

So, now is that time. I’m uprooting, upending and relocating myself.

I am going back from whence I came.

I am moving back home.

It feels REALLY WEIRD. I’ve spent more of my life away from home than I have living there. I have loads of worries. Will I fit in? Will I even want to fit in? Will I make new friends? Will I be depressed? Will I get really fat? Will I be unhappy? Will I hate it? Will I think it’s a mistake?

Will I feel like a failure?

But, amidst all those (VERY LOUD) worries, that inner voice says, loud and clear, GO.

GO HOME.

IT’S TIME TO GO HOME.

So, hubs and I are packing it up and moving from Los Angeles, my love affair of the last ten years, to Indiana. An hour outside Chicago. On the lakefront. In Gary.

Yes, Gary.

We are moving to Gary, Indiana.

I can’t hardly believe I’m typing that, let alone DOING it.

But that voice, loud and clear, has said “IT’S TIME.” And for some reason it’s also saying “GO TO GARY,” which, if you’re from the area, you know that’s just UNHEARD OF. Who moves to Gary?

Apparently, I do. And hubs. Even hubs trusts my intuition, which is practically screaming “GARY, INDIANA!!!!!” at me all the time now that I’m listening and trusting.

I’m in for a major course adjustment. But every other time in my life it has been exactly the thing I’ve needed. But I’ve never moved away from someplace I’ve come to love so intensely.

I love it here. I love Los Angeles. And I will miss it terribly. And the friends who have become more like family. I will miss them more than I could ever possibly express. I will miss the life I have created here.

But new adventures await. I see a world of possibility before me. My spirit, even though it is scared shitless, is also exhilarated about what the future might hold.

There’s much work to be done before the move happens. I’m exhausted just by the thought of it. But it must be done. The wheels have been set in motion, and it is time to move forward with their momentum.

More to come. So much more to come.

Where To Find Information About California / Los Angeles Judicial Candidates and Ballot Measures

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Since moving to California ten years ago, I’ve been shocked by how intense the voting process is here. We vote for seemingly everything, and often. It seems only a month a two goes by before I start receiving political flyers and a sample ballot in the mail. Again.

Most of the time, I feel totally overwhelmed. Most of the candidates and ballot measures we’re asked to weigh-on in, I know nothing about. And for a long time I’ve felt it’s been hard to get reliable information, aside from what is mailed to us with our sample ballot, so that I can make educated decisions.

Voting isn’t just a right; it’s a responsibility. I don’t take it lightly.

I don’t want to “eenie, meenie, miney, mo” my way through the ballot. And I don’t think you should, either. Of course, it’s your choice. It’s your right to vote as you please. But I think we owe it to each other to make informed decisions. These aren’t just offices or measures we’re voting on – these are things that impact people’s lives, some in a very direct way. I choose not to be cavalier about that responsibility.

Last night – a Friday night – I researched and completed my mail-in ballot. Do I know how to party, or what? Seriously, though, I spent a few hours looking for information online that would help me make decisions about each item on my ballot. I wish I found one central place where all that information is available, but I didn’t.

So I decided to put it together and share it with you. Now – this is information specific to California/Los Angeles, where I reside. But hopefully it will help to point you in the direction of where you might go online to find information about your district.

I’m not only including links that offer simplified explanations of each measure along with arguments for and against, I’m also including links to who or what the state or local Republican and Democratic parties are endorsing. Some of these ballot measures are tricky, and I find it helpful to know how my party feels about the issue. And who the hell knows anything about the judges, unless you are somehow involved in the judicial system?

If you’re voting third party – go, you maverick! I’m going to assume you know where to find the information you need, or that you’re smart enough to figure it out.

So, without further ado, here are the links that I found helpful:

California’s 17 Ballot Measure Propositions Explained (brought to you by public radio):

http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/10/03/65230/time-to-cram-california-s-17-ballot-measure-propos/

Voter Guide for City of Los Angeles Ballot Measures:

http://lwvlosangeles.org/files/LA_City_Measures.pdf

Los Angeles County Bar Association Evaluations of all judicial candidates:

http://www.lacba.org/docs/default-source/jeec-reports/jeec-report-2016.pdf

California Democratic Party Ballot Measure Endorsements:

http://www.cadem.org/vote/2016-ballot-initiatives

Los Angeles County Democratic Party Endorsements:

http://www.lacdp.org/endorsements/

California Republican Party Ballot Measure Endorsements:

https://www.cagop.org/ballot_measure_endorsements

Los Angeles County Republican Party Endorsements:

http://www.lagop.org/elections

While included in the endorsements links, I didn’t find a great source of unbiased information about the two Los Angeles County measures on the ballot. Please comment if you know of one, or if I missed anything that you think is important.

Remember – your vote counts! Take the time to educate yourself so you can make an informed decision.

 

 

 

Tidiness and Creativity

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The Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, totally gets it.
The Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, totally gets it.

There’s a polarizing topic trending in my social media feeds these days, and I don’t mean Democrat vs. Republican, pro-gun vs. anti-gun or the Great Bathroom Debate of 2016.

I’m talking about tidy vs. messy.

Normally, I don’t care too much about whether someone is a tidy person or a messy person.

OK, that’s a lie, but I’m trying.

What kind of irks me about the topic is that there’s this idea that creative types are messy while non-creative types are tidy. That might be putting it too simply, but there have been studies done and articles written about how messiness is inherently tied to creativity.

I call bullshit on that idea.

I am a tidy person. I am also a creative person. I do not think those two things are mutually exclusive.

Yet the idea persists in our culture that you cannot be tidy and be creative at the same time.

Case in point – a couple of years ago I had a smallish party at my house. As sometimes happens, a guest will bring along a friend or two.

In this particular case, my guest’s friend happened to be a rather well-known musician of the rock star variety. Very interesting, cool and friendly guy. Obviously super-creative. Accomplished. It was humbling and exciting to have him at my house in my very un-posh neighborhood.

At one point during the evening, he noticed my little workspace. I have a tiny house, and I’ve cordoned off a corner of the living room and made it my “studio.” It is very tidy. Nobody is allowed in my space. Leaving something on my desk without my permission is a punishable offense. At that time, I had a tall set of drawers next to my desk. Each drawer had been labeled with a label maker with its contents and the drawers were alphabetized.

“What’s this?” he asked me, in his perfect rock-star British accent.

“It’s my supplies,” I answered. I mean, fuck, wasn’t it obvious? They’re labeled.

He looked at me incredulously and said, “But it’s so organized. I thought you were an artist.”

The tall set of drawers in question...
The tall set of drawers in question… It looks a little messy in this picture, but I assure you, in real life it’s quite tidy compared to the rest of the house.

I won’t lie. My heart sank a little. It’s hard enough being an artist without having other artists question your credibility. And it also kind of made me a little mad. He told me how he couldn’t create unless things around him were a little chaotic. And I get that sometimes you need a little upheaval to spark the imagination and see new connections.

My mind is constantly in motion. I am always thinking of the stories I’m creating, working out plot points, figuring out the characters. Or I’m thinking about what I’m going to make for dinner with the disparate bits of this and that in the kitchen. Or I’m thinking about how I want to paint the hallway. Or I’m thinking about a craft project I’d like to do.

I’ve always got creative ideas bubbling around in my mind.

And here’s the thing – if my environment is messy, it’s distracting. I can’t fully focus on my thoughts or feelings or what I’m trying to create. A messy studio makes deep and meaningful thought almost impossible. I tame my environment so that my mind and heart have the freedom they need to explore.

So yes – I am tidy and I am creative. I can be both.

What about you? Are you a tidy creative? Or do you thrive in a messy environment?

 

 

 

 

The spirit of the time as experienced by me, Amy Clites